In general I love historical fiction and this book seemed like it would have lots going for it. But it failed in every aspect of it. The characters were flat, boring and cliche. The plot moved extremely slowly and 'clues' were gone over again and again and again and then again a few chapters later, in case you forgot. The whole book could have been half the length without losing anything. The translation was stilted, especially with idioms and phrases. For those who might be faint of heart, the descriptions of torture and killing is not extremely graphic but presented in a very matter-of-fact way. Probably not for everyone.
My biggest problem with the book was continuity errors and plot holes. The editor of this book needs to be fired. Sometimes it's little things, like the main characters get covered in clay dust which they can't get off, and an hour later when one goes to town to get help, no one asks why they're all covered in dirt. When you find out who did it, I invite you to go back and read the initial descriptions of this character's physical characteristics and then read the big confrontation scene again. See the problem? Appalling.
In the middle of the book, I thought I'd be giving this book maybe 3 stars and say that it was kind of ok for listening to in the car, but the completely frustrating plot hole at the end was the final turn of the thumb-screw for me. I confess: I hated this book. Would not recommend, will not buy the sequel.
If you thought the first book liked to reiterate plot points (like what happened to Gin's family, or who characters are or where Gin stashes her knives), then buckle yourself in because you're likely to fall asleep at the wheel and crash your car listening to this monotonous repetition of everything. Don't worry if you didn't read the first book, this one tells you what happened. Several times. Then, in case you got lost on the current 'plot' it will remind you of that too. Forgot that Gin's family is dead? Don't worry, she'll remind you. Forgot who Mab Monroe is? Don't fret! Another long winded description is only a page or two away! The book was better than half over before anything like plot started happening. I have to wonder if the entire plot line with the lawyer's son wasn't added in to make the thing actual novel length.
As though that was't bad enough, we have the continuation of the forced 'relationship' between Gin and the detective ("His eyes met mine. Grey on gold." gag). I don't understand why Gin is so determined that the fact she's a (retired) murderer shouldn't matter to the only non-corrupt cop in the city. Are we really supposed to take her side on this? She goes on and on about how he should overcome his morals because he's physically attracted to her. What? It makes no sense to me.
Anyway, moral of the story, I won't be buying any more of this series.
I had high hopes going in to this book for the start to a riveting series. It wasn't that the book was bad, it just wasn't good. It's not that Reacher isn't an interesting character, but that he never seems to face any actual troubles. Every time he runs into an obstacle or an opponent, he kills them and moves on. He pretty much goes through the whole book without getting a scratch. I guess I was just hoping for a more intense story. I mean, we all know that the hero of whatever book is going to win, but it would be nice to see him struggle a bit. The big confrontation of the book is quite anticlimactic.
Also, I thought it took waaaaaay too long for Reacher or anyone to figure out the scam that was going on with the counterfeiting. I mean, he tracks down Hubble through a (frankly barely believable) Sherlock Holmes-ian series of deductions but can't figure out 'ex unum pluribus'?
Don't get me started on Rosco. I hate useless female characters. For someone who is supposedly a police officer, she's so useless I just want to punch her.
Dick Hill did a great job narrating though. He has the perfect voice for this kind of thing. There's a little preview of the next book at the end, and the new narrator they have sounds frankly terrible. Even if I had been inclined to buy the next in the series, I probably wouldn't based on the terrible performance of the preview.
Anyway, if you're looking for an entertaining listen when you're on a long car ride or somesuch, then I'd recommend it. If you're looking for a quality action/mystery book, then keep looking.
This book continues on the plot started up in the epilogue of the first book. Unfortunately, it fails to live up to its predecessor. It has most of the same plot features, all the same characters, science and high tech, but now it's just rehashing the first book instead of doing something new. It pretty much follows exactly the same plot as the first, wherein Pendergast and D'Augusta call on the Museum of Natural History crew to help out with killer beasts. Things come to a head when a variety of plot lines all come together in the same place at the same time, but where things seemed smooth and natural with the first book (the gathering of people for the museum opening), this book seems a bit more stilted and forced. The Take Back Our City plot line seems stuck in there for no better reason than to provide a crowd to be put in danger as things spiral out of control because of faulty technology and incompetent people in high places (just like the first book).
The first book was quite focused on the science of the museum beast. This book also has some science in it, but all the repetitive time that was before spent on DNA is now spent on the underground city beneath New York. Like the first book it's interesting for a few minutes, but dragging as the book goes on.
I quite like Dick Hill in general as a narrator, and I think he has a great voice for gritty detective books, but he just couldn't capture any kind of southern accent for Pendergast and his Irish accent for the coroner was frankly sad.
Bottom line: this book doesn't give me hope for the rest of the series. Probably won't be buying any more of them.
I really wanted to like this book. It started out so well and had lots of good things going for it. There's a ton of interesting characters, a pretty good mystery (ie. you are unlikely to guess the culprit in the first twenty pages), well researched history, a plot that moves along at a fair pace. Then, at the last maybe the last fifth of the book it all fell apart for me. In general, I liked Matthew, and I appreciated that McCammon didn't fall into the anachronistic trend of having his 'good' characters assume that there are no such things as witches or witchcraft. Matthew really isn't sure if Rachel is a witch or not for a fair chunk of the book. It's the kind of book where there are lots of clues given here and there and you know perfectly well that they're clues and will be important later, but it's hard to predict how they will be useful. It seemed like it was going places. Then everything went to pieces, when Matthew leaves Fount Royal the book starts to fail. The ending was such a disappointment. It was't that the villain didn't fit the role, but there was an entire chapter of exposition on why he/she had done what he/she had done and all the tired cliched reasons. After such a carefully realistic and convoluted setup, it all wraps up so neat and tidy. I just wanted more. I suppose if the next book in the series went on sale, I might consider it, but I won't be rushing out to spend a credit on it.
I bought this book on sale and wasn't really sure I was going to get into it, but I found myself quickly attracted to the struggles of the main character. It was easy to be swept along with Archer from youth and optimism, from thinking that the world and society could be anything that you might make of it, from believing you can determine your own fate, to the realization that society will find a way to mold you into a thing that fits. It's a slow, inexorable decline, and I felt for him every step of the way. I was almost in tears at the end, which is pretty rare for me. Now, I can definitely see classrooms of high school students hating this book as they are forced into essays about 'the role of flowers as gifts' or 'social norms versus trends' but outside the classroom setting, I quite liked it.
The narrator did a mostly adequate job, but I'm not sure why they had a British narrator do the definitely American story. Why not get an American? Horovitch tried an American accent for the dialogue, but didn't do a great job, I don't know anyone who puts an 'r' sound after vowels. No one I know would pronounce it "Olensker".
Kay has such a talent for creating an astonishing blend of character, setting and plot. Sure, the book could be taken as an extended tourist pamphlet for southern France, but the setting is so essential that it doesn't come off forced.
I love the characters that Kay creates, because they are such true people, none of them really truly good or truly bad, everyone is just trying the best to get what they want. Each character has their own motivation and is good or evil in relation to that. Also, unlike most books, it was nice to see that when some insane problem faces the fifteen year old main character he doesn't go out and solve a thousand year old problem, he goes to his parents for help, like an actual person not a book character would.
Two things to keep in mind. Characters from Kay's Fionavar Tapestry books are in this book. Now, you don't need to have read the Tapestry trilogy since the plots aren't really connected, but it might help you understand some of the characters more.
Second, while I hate to criticize Kay's work, Edward Mariner has two male assistants, yet Greg is the only one who really plays any part in it, and I'm not sure why the other one is in the book at all. It sort of seems like he was written in as an afterthought, and I'm not even sure why. I'm pretty sure he's even referred to by the wrong name at one point. A minor thing, but it just stuck with me as I was listening.
The narrator did a great job, I thought, of capturing both a teenager's sarcastic inner dialogue and the beauty and scope of the tale and its setting.
So, in this slightly dystopian future of this book, teenagers can be taken apart for spare parts and everyone is cool with that (except the kids who are going to be taken apart, for obvious reasons). If you can just sort of accept that and not question or think too hard about it, then the book is an at least average level of entertaining. The author tries to explain how this strange premise came about but frankly it only makes the whole thing less believable. In general, it's another book of spunky teenagers out to overthrow an 'unfair' system of government. (Kind of makes you worry about the future of society.) Not really better or worse than the rest out there. I guess bottom line: alright but I'm not rushing out to buy the sequel.
Well, it's a teen paranormal romance novel, that's all you really need to know about it. It's not particularly better or particularly worse than thousands of others out there. It's got everything you'd expect (teenage heroine without a family, who is shy, mousy and romantically inexperienced but is mysteriously necessary? check! supernatural hero who is ridiculously handsome, plagued by some terrible but not disfiguring curse, protective verging on misogynistic, waaaaay older than the heroine, devoted and loyal? check!) plus its got a neato setting in India.
I try not to get too caught up in little plot things in books like this (you know, like how Keshan who has spent that last three hundred years as a tiger in the Indian jungle can speak fluent, modern Enlighsh?). On the other hand, these characters are so stupid, it really aggrevated me. I mean, they've spent hundreds of years trying to break the curse, and when they find out how to do that they completely don't think anything through. As soon as they get the prophesy they a) start off without considering that the whole 'five sacrifices' thing? and b) go immediately to get Keshan even though the prophesy says specifically that there will only be ONE transformation for ONE man. Smart characters would think about these things. That sort of thing is why I won't be getting any of the other books in this series. Besides, we all know how it ends anyway...
The female narrator did a great job. Her accents weren't forced or inconsistent. The male narrator (who thankfully only did the prolgoue and epilogue) was absolutely terrible!!
There seems to be lots of great buzz and reviews about this book, so I had some high hopes going in. It wasn't that I was completely disappointed with the book, but I don't think it lived up to the hype.
I've listened to the novel several times in an attempt to figure out what exactly I dislike about it, but I still can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it was the rather disjointed plot. Lots of things happen in the book that don't necessarily have much to do with any of the other things. The author mentions in her discussion of the book that it started as several short stories. You can tell. The storylines seemed jammed painfully together, resulting in some problems with timing (ie. look at the discrepancies in the passage of time in the Richard is first hired by the dragon chancellor and Michael Godwin's decision to take up swordsmanship).
Maybe I didn't like that you never really understand what's going on. It's hard to get too worked up about political plotting and rivalries when you get absolutely no explanation of any of the government system or positions. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Gene Wolfe fan and if there was ever an author who didn't feel the need to burden the narrative with explaining himself, its Wolfe, but Kushner's novel just didn't cut it for me.
I didn't mind the multiple narrators so much as the stupid sound effects that accompany the narration. The addition of things like the sound of spoons stirring when characters are having tea, is so juvenile a technique that it takes away from the book.
After the book is over, the author talks a bit about writing it and says that it took her a long time to write this book and she started and put it down quite a bit. It shows. The book tries to recapture the plotting and charming romance of the first but really can't pull it off.
The plot is even more disjointed and incomplete than the first book. There are huge plot problems, like the super abrupt ending to the big conflict, and the complete irrelevance of Lucius and his lover to the entire plot. There are small plot problems, like why does Katherine think she's such good friends with Artemesia that she ought to leap to Artemesia's defense when they've only met twice and one of the times Artemesia laughed at her and won't answer any of her letters?
I suppose it's supposed to be a 'tapestry' that shows all the things that go on in Riverside, but it just wasn't my thing. It seemed like just a list of all the ways women are oppressed in the city. I just wanted more.
Leaving aside my general dislike of the whole multi-narrator premise, the production on this wasn't very good. The narration was so quiet I had to turn up the volume as loud as it would go, only to be frequently deafened by the stupid 'sword' sounds which marked breaks in the chapters. There are good narrators out there who can 'whisper' what characters say without actually lowering their voices to an indecipherable level.
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